Predators continue to target children

Predators continue to target children as latest government statistics show that close to 150 children below the age of six years were kidnapped for marriage or physical relationship last year. The country also witnessed a rise in child marriages in which Karnataka and Tamil Nadu remained on the top.

According to the recently released ‘Crime in India 2016’ report, 139 girls below the age of six years were kidnapped for marriage across the country while 17 children, including two boys in the same age group, were taken away from their parents for having physcial relationship.

The report showed that 16,938 children, including one boy, were kidnapped for marriage in 2016. The lone boy in this group was in the age group 16-18 years in which the maximum number of girls (9,672) also belonged to.

According to NCRB report, there were 78 cases of girls getting kidnapped for marriage in Karnataka last year. The highest was in Uttar Pradesh where 7,345 cases were reported followed by Bihar (2,193).

When it comes to kidnapping for illicit intercourse, there were 1,588 victims below the age of 18 years of which 26 were boys. There were also 59 girls who were abducted for prostitution.

While 16,917 adults, including 58 men, were abducted for marriage, another 297, including six men, were kidnapped for having physical relationship. For prostitution, 111 women were abducted.

When it comes to cases of child marriages that touched 326 last year as against 280 in 2014 and 293 in 2015, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka topped the list with 55 and 51 cases respectively. These two states have been on the top for the past three years.

However, activists believe that this may not be real picture on child marriage scene in India. The Ministry of Women and Child Development had in one of its earlier reports said that 43% of women aged 20-24 were married before the age of 18.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Dec 7, 2017)

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